New year, new attitude

Over the last year, I have been blessed to travel through a canyon of emotional and personal change. The low valleys of injury, occasional heartbreak and shifts in my spirituality. The high peaks of outdoor adventure, compassionate personal and community growth and discovering new levels of authentic passions. Throughout the year the  multiple funks, grooves, and routines that come and go affirm the temporary beauty of nature. Just like a tree, we go through seasons of blooming and shedding; cold spells and heat waves invade our surroundings and offer diverse environments for us to overcome and prosper.

Reflecting back on 365 days often brings up the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” internal dialogue. Personally, part of me feels inclined, almost obligated, to create a long list of the ways in which I missed out or gave up. Then, the other part of me that wants to celebrate the successes gets silenced by the dominating, never-ending unsatisfaction of the ego. I (a.k.a. ego) decide that I should excel at everything I seek out and if I don’t, then I am less than worthy. But how realistic is this thought process?
The hang up in the origins of this idea is that the definition of success or being ‘great’ is relative to whoever is talking. Lance Armstrong idea of success is unlike mine or yours. And mentally torturing myself is not productive to creating positive connections with my inner and outer relationships. When I step back and look at the harsh standards I establish for myself, I recognize that I am not expanding to be the person I want to be. And ultimately, when I think about my selfish drive to be validated by my athleticism, I am forced to surrender to the fact that in our existence, it is not about me.
On an organic level, it is about our connectivity, but I think the problem comes in the influence of our culture. Our personal definitions are produced and prided on our culture’s fast paced, high pressured expectations. I find that no matter how much awareness I exude, separating myself from this enticing drug of ideals is a struggle for me.
As I step onto a new path, a new year, my goal is to choose my daily actions based on manifesting fun and serenity rather than continuing to push myself harder. I recognize that I may encounter a lot of resistance from my inner voices. But I also am setting a contract with myself that I can try this mindset out for 2012 and go back to intense ass-kicking in 2013 if I get too desperate. This last year has been too full of pain to keep accelerating.  I’m in need to switch it up, try something beyond my usual structure and let divinity overwhelm my being.
I want to be in love with my life without limitations on what that looks like. So the switch comes to replacing WANT with AM. I am in love with life (well, most the time!). What commitment am I willing to make to create a reality worth taking pride in? It starts now and the new year is a prime time to make it happen! What reality do you want in the new year?

 

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National Lampoons (a.k.a. Fergustreets) Christmas Vacation

Being in San Diego over the past few days has been a warm embrace of familiar love filled with lots of laughter, acknowledging each others’ strengths and imperfections with humor. Most directly, being together again rings true why I have such a deep love for gourmet food and fine wines. The majority of our time together is spent investigating and discussing the next top restaurant we’re going to check out. This quality, concentrated family time illustrates the dynamic origins of my outspoken and spastic personality.

My mom provides on-going entertainment with her gullible, carefree, spunky attitude; looking around at every moment, taking pictures of everything (including way too many of me) and saying obvious (maybe unnecessary) things out loud like a small child. But those are the reasons that I love her; always at least 10 steps behind me in her braless camisole and keen sandals. I love her optimistic, go-getter outlook…her adventurous audacity mixed with everlasting thoughtfulness. She is the predictable obvious tourist pointing at a historic statue or stopping to read something, as I turn my head the other way pretending I’m not with her. But in the middle of our 50th photo together, I turn and give her a big kiss because I cherish all our photos together, all the good food we share together and the laughs that make me more humbled to accept people for who they uniquely are each day. It’s that comfortable feeling of being supported and deeply nurtured that is beyond words…thus I digress.

One lesson I learned this trip is, don’t ever give my mother, or any person for that matter, a coke and a pixie stick. To cure her hangover of gin martinis from our first night in Long Beach she decided a coke would cure all! And to top it off, a pixie stick at the front desk of our hotel in San Diego was the cherry on tip! The next morning she shouts “OMG” in the morning while I’m still in bed. I pop my head up thinking something is wrong, like she forgot her purse somewhere for the umpteenth time. She replies with a golly “Here’s coffee! And here’s baileys! PERFECT!” — “Good morning, mother” was my reply as I pulled the sheet over my head. I knew it was going to be a good day. Now I see where I get so much damn energy in the morning! Side note: Tanqueray, Baileys, Coke, and/or Pixie Sticks are all not on my mother’s usual diet list, but that’s what happens when she doesn’t see her daughter for over six months.

Beyond the laughs, clarity shone this trip of how I am like my mother in her resourcefulness and creativity. Today, when our car broke down in the middle of I-5, as I turn to google maps on my iPhone, she’s over at the payphone booth ripping out ads in a phonebook to the nearest mechanic shop. We end up with the sam result, but talk about a generation gap! Her ability to plan, tackle obstacles, and conquer is why I am intrinsically BIG picture and detail-oriented. After that, she gets out of the car with her camera and says, “breakdown pictures” and snaps a candid shot.

These shots will be just two of the 1000s of plane shots she took of the airplanes skimming the ground into the San Diego Airport. If you’ve ever been to SD, you know well the ridiculous proximity of the airport to the downtown area. If you haven’t, call me and I’ll get you some photos; we have plenty 🙂 After living in San Francisco for the last year and a half, San Diego is surprisingly spread out and traffic-free compared to my humble, dense and populated home. Getting outside my comfort zone and into a new environment is like a little game of pretend, a moment in time where I can imagine my life in another place, doing different things…but ultimately being the same Hannah.

All these random, spontaneous moments surely bring me back to a place of introspection. How serious do I need to take external circumstances and situations? And a bigger question, how serious do I need to take myself? That balance of responsibility and integrity is occasionally weighed down with some gin martinis and pixie sticks. But often uplifted with lots of leafy greens and kombucha. So at the end of the day, is taking things seriously driving us to a more superior summit or are we getting there (wherever that may be) twice as fast with half the fun? Maybe it’s about being 10 steps behind double fisting with a gin martini and kombucha (alth0ugh not appetizing together) and looking around with a full heart and open eyes. Lately, it has been a deep struggle for me to be 10 steps behind and have fun but I know now more than ever that it’s TRUE = Totally Raw, Ugly and Extraordinary. I know I wouldn’t be here today without my crazy family, but they are helping me find compassionate equanimity in my life…and for that, I am blessed.

From sunny and crazy San Diego

If you believed that you truly mattered…

…what would you do or how would you act differently today? 

This time of year is a wonderful time of embrace and connection with those we love. It can also be a time of immense challenge, diverging from our comfort zones and daily routines and diving into family overload. I’ve always thought of these, “I can’t do this next year” moments as a time to reflect and relish in the stability of my own, unique lifestyle (and to work on my deep breathing!). The holidays are a time when I allow myself to honor the habits in my life that are most precious to only one person: ME. Growing up as an only child, I developed an unconscious desire to impress my parents from an early age. Now as an adult, making decisions purely based on my own desires is a goal that I have to continue to slowly adopt.

I’m beginning to digest that is in the more intimate relationships — with parents, significant others, close friends, etc. — that we are pushed the farthest only because love expands personal limits of possibility. If your crazy mother and annoying brother don’t do it for you, god knows your good-intentioned but demanding girlfriend will! My point is: it is ironic how the people we are closest to can also be the people pushing us to change our perspective and rubbing us the wrong way. (Note:) I think it is important to learn if they are asking us to shift from love or shift for their own expectations. This can be a tricky one, but ultimately helps weed out toxic relationships.

This is also a time of year where we are extended to make cookies, write cards, wrap gifts, meet deadlines, organize, delegate and one more thing…focus less on ourselves and more on others. The ability to balance can become stuffed at the bottom of the stocking. Can we still contribute by making a snazzy gingerbread house, etc.-AND-marvel in celebrating our compassion/efforts of how we contribute to our families?? We spend so much time creating or buying thoughtful gifts for others. But if you mattered just as much as your wife, son, grandmother, cousin, boyfriend, dog, how would you act differently? What would you give yourself?

Recently, I have been dealing with both minor and serious injuries that have been challenging my mind more than my body. I don’t even reach the family craze of the holidays till Saturday, yet I have been on the battlefield for a couple of weeks now (as I’m sure most of many of you have, too). I could trudge through my injuries like I normally do, doing my rehab and going to my expensive doctors, surgeons, and so-called healers; getting back in the game as quick as possible. But this go-round is different because I have someone pushing me to shift my perspective. I am being asked to sacrifice what I cling to as my identity and allow the healing of my body to take precedent over my mind. I am being gracefully shoved down to rest despite my inherent love for running, jumping, climbing, and riding most any bike or board I can.

As much as I want to come back with resistance to the advice, I am surrendering to letting go of associated concepts of self-doubt around worth and integrity only because this person is asking me to acknowledge the benefits of doing something differently because I do matter! (*Note:) Someone else believing you are fully worthy is not going to matter unless you believe YOU do…over and over and over again. So, it’s in these intimate relationships, where we are driven to our wits’ end out of the expansion of pure and raw love. The vulnerable acceptance that maybe we aren’t as cool as we thought is hard to admit to others and definitely to ourselves. Family holidays, hardships/tragedies or huge life changes (health, location, jobs) all bring us to the humbling resolution that 1) We’re not alone and 2) We are worthy!

As much as personal self-love is the pinnacle of happiness, we are ALWAYS in relationship. Whether that be intimate or seemingly disconnected (a.k.a barista or bus driver), we are always interconnecting with other beings. Others are influencing us on numerous levels throughout the day. But what would the day look like if you truly believed you truly mattered? How would you act? I am finding that for myself, it is not the process of acting. I am gung-ho for action! For me it’s the first part of the question: believing. Not just believing, but authentically and organically believing that worth does not fluctuate with my body.

I cannot wait to see my parents for the first time in over six months. I also know that there is a high probability for the usual bickering in addition to the hugs, kisses, and laughter. I see those qualities in my parents that I honor and those that I am glad I chose not to adopt. But the perspective they offer me is enlightening. I am so deeply grateful for those people in my life driving me to question and fundamentally believe I am good enough just as I am. May you lean on those people when you need then, and even more when you think you don’t…there’s always a greater plan!

Safe travels and happy holidays!

Gratitude under the tree

Screw the presents, the egg nog, and the mistletoe. Instead give gifts of hugs and love, eat nutritious meals with friends and family and kiss someone standing in the middle of the street (traffic permitting), not under some damn plant. I’m all for traditions, celebrations and any occasion that brings families and communities together. However, I feel that Christmas is another event that has been sucked into our economy/culture’s hypnotizing scheme of marketing, money and materialism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the seasonal Silk Nog, Christmas lights, and holiday parties. I just believe that the origins of the MEANING of Christmas is lost. Just like our focus on education is lost under business deals and our local food awareness is lost behind canned foods.

For me, this is the time of year that I fill the bottom of the tree with big boxes of gratitude…all shapes and sizes! This year, I have abundant gratitude for:

my family (x 100,000,000)

my friends, near and far

my job

my computer

google/iphone for saving my life a couple times

my yoga practice

my yoga mat (for that matter)

my bike

my bike helmet (for that matter)

my climbing shoes/harness

my favorite climbing/biking partner

kale

kombucha

coffee

wine

green apple Layers gum

handstands

morning runs

tears

fears

cuddling

clean brushed teeth

the human body’s ability to heal

my coworkers

my coworker’s willingness to put up with me and laugh at me

my journal

the opportunities that lie ahead

and…

…all of you!

This holiday season, I’m saying “I love you” as much as possible, taking risks, opening up to new ideas and offering myself a new kind of self-love: the non-material, non-ego, non-selfish kind. 2011 has been a year of pain, change and instability…but also strength and undeniable support, too. Most people (including myself) say, “I can’t wait for a new year…for bigger and better things!” But why not start today, the new year is still over a week away! And I think it’s a lie to say that next year won’t include pain, change and instability along with strength and undeniable support. So, I’m encouraging you and prepping myself not to be blown away by 2012 like a magic trick that transforms our lives. I am believer that everything we’ve ever done and everyone we’ve ever met has gotten us to where we are today. So I’m taking my gratitude with me into 2012; leaving nothing behind to be forgotten, but forgiving it all and accepting that I am who I am. Christmas doesn’t have to be the only time to eat, drink and be merry!

Merry New Year and Blessings

FULL powerLESSness

This weekend, I traveled to Tahoe to visit my godparents and snowboard for the first time in two years, due to my knee injury last winter. I have been anxiously planning this trip for over a month and was so excited to both have some quality family time and return to my beloved snowboard, despite the horrendous lack of snow. Well, one thing was fulfilled on my trip: quality family time! I feel deeply blessed for the community in South Shore. Since my godparents are the owners of Freshies Restaurant , I have been lucky enough to be immersed in a vibrant community of local love and kind-hearted, warm spirits. The small town connectivity reminded me of my Colorado childhood roots and who I am at heart.

The other goal of my trip, to return to my beloved snowboard, was accomplished…however, only until I sprained my knee on the FIRST run! This is when I shake my head in frustration for the millionth time (although I feel so blessed I’m not more hurt). My streak with injuries for 2011 has been as bad as the snow this season! I am absolutely looking forward to 2012 and the possibilities for more activities with less accidents/pain. It feels like the Universe is a big bully that keeps slamming me into lockers, except my joints are the ones being tortured. So, I am faced yet again with having to limit myself and ice a swollen knee. And this time around, I am questioning, is there some other part of my life that is swelling for protection that I need to ice down and let heal? Because at this point, I feel defeated.

Choosing perseverance AND trust in the midst of physical or emotional pain is difficult because the safety net drops out and we are falling into a sea of unknown. The unknown of doing things any differently than what we categorize as comfortable/fun/good/pleasurable/exciting is a rude awakening to the dream-like reality we formulate in our minds. These are the humbling moments when we realize we’re not as important as we thought and we do not have the final say in how things go down. We are just a participant in the game of life, not the referee. Not to say we can’t be active participants with strategies and talent!

When I got home and back onto a computer for the first time in two days (funny how strange that feels!), I caught up on some emails and articles. I came across Tommy Rosen’s healing piece from the Daily Love blog. Rosen writes, “To admit one’s powerlessness is to understand one’s place in the world.” This statement gracefully and bluntly iterated the truth that I am powerless to my body’s limitations. But reminded me that I am FULL of options on how to deal with it. Right now, my heart is filled with sadness and fear, but that does not mean that I can’t strategize on how to play smart. For now, I am having to take a timeout from the extreme plays and rest on the disabled list. Normally, being forced to take time off from being active means I get fired up, feeling betrayal, a little anger, passion and drive to get back and show my body who’s boss.

After Saturday on the mountain, my lesson is that I’m not the boss. I am only the boss of accepting my powerlessness to, as well as, my power in the bigger actuality of my personal and external circumstances. “It [powerlessness] is absolutely counter-intuitive, which is why our logical thinking can get in they way.  In recovery you will hopefully come to learn the many ways that you are powerful and you will be blessed indeed not to forget the places where you are powerless (Rosen).” I am recovering from a childhood of being lucky enough to be adventurous and athletic. I am morning the loss of my high-risk, full throttle lifestyle. I have been holding on for the past year thinking I could get back to where I once was. This weekend was the final death of that.

Not only am I having to ice my knee, I’m having to heal my heart and lay to rest old belief systems around identity. This weekend was filled with moments of love and laughter, but also struggle and sadness — a funeral to the past, but also a rebirth of a deeper sense of self. Clinging to the state of where my body was once at will not make it more real in the NOW. It’s pretty simple — we all are in the truth of the NOW, whether that is full of power or powerless (and hopefully present). Both are okay — the question is, can we accept that? I am developing as much curiosity as possible to the different kinds of creatures at the bottom of the unknown sea…I’m going diving! Fins up 🙂

Everyday Cinderella

Lately, I’ve been riding a wave of gratitude that keeps colliding into a shore of impatience. As much as I am filled with immense gratitude for my surroundings — especially my job, my family, and my loved ones, I have been tested by the pinched nerve in my neck to slow down way beyond my neurotic comfort zone. The change of pace is surprisingly invoking a stronger sense of self, knowing that who I am outside of being active is someone I’m proud of. On the flip side of this are unusual cravings, actions and thought patterns. Coming out of an eating disorder and years of focusing fiercely on my image, being more flexible with my pace is shocking my system with an embrace of compassion, acceptance and trust. The waves of gratitude depend on my internal weather — how much sun/love I shine on myself or how much I decide to create mental clouds, blocking my personal potential.

For my organization’s holiday party yesterday, I wore a nice sweater and high heels. I actually enjoying wearing heels from time to time because it 1) reminds me that I can be more than just an athletic girl and 2) it definitely helps me look more professional and with that comes an empowered confidence. Putting on the heels engages another personality in me…one that is ambitious and feels beautiful/sexy, rather than ambitious and wants sweat running down my forehead hanging from a climbing wall. As much as the heels is a fancy up-sale from the norm of yoga pants and nikes, walking to Whole Foods on my lunch break made me realize:

Is it about how you LOOK or how you FEEL?

I understand that our looks are an expression of how we feel, but to what degree? In that moment walking four long blocks along the hills of SF, I looked great but my feet sure didn’t feel great! I walk way too fast to wear those things on a consistent basis. For some people, the focus is more on how they look and I respect that. But for me, yesterday was a reminder that I am more concerned with how I feel and much less about how I look. Whether that’s clothes, food, sleep, exercise, etc, I mostly choose the path to the most comfort and energy. I say ‘mostly’ because I find I’m human and imperfect more than my ego would like to admit.

I’ve always been a bit envious of women who can look so damn good in heels and do it with class. Dressing up is definitely one of those things I have to “fake it till I make it”. But when I woke up this morning, I went right for my bright running shoes. I took off the normal bra, jewelry and threw my black heels in the back of my closet. I put on a sports bra, my lucy pants, and laced up my teal Asics. Noticing the switch in my internal energy, I was affirmed by the reality that we cannot force things in our life. We each have our own unique style and the moment we pretend we are someone different, we start to feel imbalance (or sore feet!). We have to wear the shoe that fits, step into each day based on how we feel, and keep trying things out until we find those things that make us feel so good, we look good doin’ it. There’s the combo!

And when I walked into work this morning and found a bunch of organic kale lying on my desk (THANK YOU Secret Santa), I literally jumped, and maybe did a little dance, for joy. Again, it is those foods like kale, rather than the holiday sweets, that don’t exactly look as good, but they make me feel fabulous!

The whole concept of experimenting and ‘trying shoes on’ until we find the right one is where my impatience comes in to play. I have abundant gratitude for the wonderful circumstances that have molded together my current lifestyle. But when I look at my internal relationship and character, I find more negative messages, pressures, demands, expectations, fears — or fill in the blank, there are plenty of suspects here. For years, I wanted the right shoe from the get-go…I didn’t have time to shop around! I’m now learning that I have to accept the fact that I have to shop around, make the wrong decision sometimes and to keep bargaining with myself to find the best deal. I can tell you right now, it is not going to be heels!

At the end of the day, we take off our shoes and our feet bare the naked truth. The external accessories are gone and we have no shield to how we feel. I am beginning to deeply understand that my attitude drives my daily thoughts, actions, words and then cycles back to the level of energy I have and how I choose my attitude the next day. Just like the weather, our feelings are cyclical. And ultimately, instead of pushing the impatience away, maybe by opening to the vulnerability of imperfection, having both gratitude and impatience in the closet, I can wear each depending on the styleI want to sport.  In this city of professionals, hippies, athletes, and various cultural backgrounds — the only one really judging my shoes is ME! So I am choosing to let the gratitude continue to crash onto the shore of impatience, letting nature take its course and letting myself be more exposed to admitting I don’t always do it right, but I try my hardest and I do it with love…AND, I love kale and bright teal running shoes!!

*lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu*

deserve.to.perserve

Recently, with a pinched nerve in my neck, I have been focusing on the physical preservation of my body. I have been pondering the scary long-term effects possible when we run into issues with the spinal column, nervous system, and fundamental structures of the body. Being an athlete since I can remember, the physical preservation always took priority in my daily life. The idea of rest and sustainability is now presenting itself with a stronger voice because I’m being forced to reevaluate or face more unfortunate consequences. Because I’m not feeling extreme pain or unable to use my extremities, I’m having to mentally convince myself to hold patience for my health and “take it easy” or whatever that means. The fact that I say “whatever that means” is where I am coming to terms with my activity level and drive to beat Seabiscuit to the finish line. This competitive nature in me is becoming less and less attractive. Where I once thrived on the idea of being stronger, healthier, smarter, “better!”, I know look at the anxiety and threat that those intense qualities bring to my personality.  For how many years have I been pressured by my ego? The long answer to that one is not how many, but an awareness that it could be many more if I allow it! Can we all stop, erase the “whatever that means” in tasks we deem mindless or necessary and truly mean whatever doing?

Part of me is open to the idea and part of me screams “NO!” for the unknown of what may happen if I loose the reins on the horsepower of life. So often, slow in our culture is linked to laziness, failure, being average, unsuccessful, and not good enough. It is hyperlinked to websites of diets, exercise, yoga retreats, meditation and vegetable juices. All of which (minus the low-carb crap diets) I participate in on a regular basis, so I can’t say I’m not guilty to reaping the benefits of the western idea of health. Basically for my whole life, I’ve avoided S.L.O.W. because I was ultimately afraid of being judged and not noticed. Now I see that people notice me, but for being the overly energetic girl who can put too many eggs in my basket, get shit done, but maybe be too stressed out, intense or bossy about situations/problems. So, I’m slowing down enough to question if I’m preserving myself to flourish beyond today. And today after a funny, ‘laugh at yourself because YES, you really just did that’ moment, I realized:

WE DESERVE TO PRESERVE OURSELVES. We deserve to physically, mentally AND emotionally preserve our energy, youthfulness, love and body to live decades of active participation and stamina.

So…the funny story! Driving in my car to the local coffee shop this afternoon, I was minding my business dreaming of coffee and tapping my sterring wheel to a song when a woman stopped in the middle of an intersection to look for parking spots down the road (ah, San Francisco drivers!). My first reaction was to yell, which I did, because I knew she couldn’t hear me. I couldn’t believe she was so oblivious that I was behind her…like I was some royal princess driving down Sacramento street. Then I thought, why the hell was I yelling? Why did I choose to get so frazzled by her lack of driving etiquette? Even though she can’t hear me and it feels good to yell sometimes, what am I doing to my stress levels by getting upset at my surroundings with no blatant reason besides the fact I really wanted some coffee?!

I contemplated the situation a little further and saw the connection between physical and emotional preservation. I have been so focused on my physical body lately, but this one moment gave me the reminder that our words, actions, reactions, and overall energy we put out into the world can create stress or ease…we choose. Unfortunately, I think we are more unconscious to our habitual reactions than consciously choosing. We are more concerned about where we’re going, what we’re doing, and how we personally can benefit. Yelling at some woman, blaming her for having to stop at the STOP sign a little longer is just a lesson that I need to hit my emotional brakes, slow down, and preserve my energy. How much energy do we put into negatively reacting if things go astray? What is it accomplishing?

Whether it’s as simple as freaking out over another’s driving skills or rolling my eyes at the store attendent when the line is really long, I hope that I can step away from wasting my energy on being selfish and slow down to honor where I am at and what I am doing — to Mean Whatever I’m Doing rather than acting like I don’t have time to stand in line. I bet there’s something interesting if I looked around without judgement or impatience.

Every one of us deserves to preserve ourselves to the maximum. We are worthy! I am surrendering to the truth that I have to put equal awareness on physically, as well as, emotional preservation. I have to put my yoga practice and morning runs on hold as much as I need to quiet my yelling and offer up some softer, kinder words. I never thought I’d be unattracted to moving forward with efficiency and productivity, but I’m questioning if I can have both of those at the same time as gentleness, thoughtful actions/words, and less intensity. I hope to organically preserve my energy through mindfulness. I deserve to make more time for smiles and laughs, for myself and those around me, too. It’s time to share the eggs in my basket. How many do we really NEED anyways?